Who among us hasn’t dreamed of a move to Greece? Its beautiful countryside – pine-lined hillsides against shimmering blue seas – historic cities and relaxed lifestyle are all big draws. Most would-be expats head immediately to the islands, but, if you’re looking for quieter areas away from the tourist crowds, mainland Greece could be the answer.
Why move to mainland Greece?
For year-round residences, mainland Greece can be a more convenient option. Many flights to the islands, for example, are summer-only. As such, you often find yourself flying to Athens and taking a ferry. On the mainland, in areas less oriented to tourists and more towards locals, you’ll often find year-round flights.
Secondly, service provision can be greater. Large islands like Crete have excellent access to healthcare, but that isn’t alwas the case in smaller ones. While you may also be living in a small village on the mainland, access to a large city is much easier (and cheaper) being able to go by road rather than ferry in case of an incident.
Finally, it’s generally quieter. There are fewer tourists around here, so even in summer, you can often be on a crowd-free beach. The ultimate bliss! That said, if you’re after hustle and bustle, you still have the two largest cities in the country on the mainland.
Where are the best places to move in mainland Greece?
You’ve a wide choice of fantastic locations, from rural to urban and everything in between. Here is our pick of the best:
This one’s easy to find on the map – it’s those three ‘fingers’ extending down into the Aegean. In fact, legend has it that it’s the result of an Olympian battle between the Greek gods and earth-dwelling giants!
Luckily, there are no giants to be seen: just fabulous village after fabulous village. The westernmost peninsula, known as Kassandra, is the most lively. The long, long stretch of Siviri beach makes the eponymous village a fantastic place for a home in mainland Greece. The modern town of Pefkohori also has immediate access to a stunning beach.
The easternmost peninsula belongs to Mount Athos, so it’s not up for property development. In the middle is the largest peninsula, Sithonia. It’s considered the most ‘authentically Greek’ part of Halkidiki. The town of Nikiti is busy, but still retains its charm. It combines the best of both worlds – a quaint old town and modern seafront, with yachting facilities. If you want to live in the mountains, try Agios Nikolaos. Even then, you can find beaches like Ormos Panagias just ten minutes’ drive away.
The large city of Thessaloniki sits at the entrance to Halkidiki, so shopping, services, healthcare and more are easily within a day-trip’s reach. The airport has year-round flights to Great Britain from Ryanair, with even more in summer. There are unfortunately no flights to Northern Ireland or the Republic, but you can connect from Athens.
We can’t talk about mainland Greece without mentioning the ‘cradle of Western civilisation’. This beautiful city feels much more liveable than many other capitals – it has a very ‘human scale’ to it. The centre is largely pedestrianised, with endless shops and cafés competing for space on narrow streets. Many Greeks live in apartments above these commercial properties, so even ‘in town’ feels ‘lived-in’. As you wander through the maze of roads, you’ll suddenly find yourself emerging into a sunny square, or to the sight of a domed cathedral, or even a view of the Acropolis itself.
Athens is surrounded by hills, so, in the heat of the summer, a haze can descend over the centre. Choose a district slight further out – with fast metro access – and you’ll be able to escape this phenomenon. In the north, the district of Kifissia features wide avenues lined by handsome houses. It’s one of the most prestigious parts of the city. Otherwise, for beach-lovers, head southeast to Glyfada. A very authentic area is Thisseio, where you’ll find a vibrant café culture.
Now we’re in the very south of mainland Greece – and in the ancient land of the Spartans. Today, it’s a largely rural area, with a few smaller cities. You can really experience an authentic Greek lifestyle here, far from tourist hotspots. The picturesque town of Navplio is a fascinating mix of Greek and Italian cultures, with the colonial architectural influence of Venice still visible today. Its winding streets, with the occasional view over the blue sea, are packed with bars and restaurants.
Any island town could envy Kalamata: it sits at the end of a whopping 5km-long beach. There’s certainly no jostling for towel space here! The town itself brands itself as having ‘a thousand faces’, from its medieval old town and castle, through to the surrounding countryside of Mt Taygetos, the modern seafront and summer dance festival.
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